Police Scotland are closing Edinburgh saunas so that sex workers will be “safer”. What irony. These sex workers are being forced into street sex work which is more risky, independent sex work which is a little more risky, agency work which is about the same. Or, of course, other massage parlours.
If they choose street work, they will suffer even more stigma from police and the general public. This means police will be less likely to believe them if they report violence against them by clients, partners or the community – just like what happened to @JasminePetite, who wasn’t believed when she reported to police that she feared violence from her ex, who later murdered her. This stigma also makes it more likely thhat these sex workers will recieve violence from clients and the community. Street work makes it more difficult for outreach services and police to work with sex workers – which is a very bad turn of events, considering that street work is the most dangerous type of sex work. They will also find it more difficult to change their jobs (or “exit the industry”) because the “revolving door effect” of being fined for soliciting and then having to work to pay off the fine will keep them in the industry. Criminal records also mean they’ll be discriminated against if they do apply for non-industry jobs. In fact, the stigma against street work is so bad that it’s possible they’ll be discriminated against when applying for some other adult industry jobs. If the police want to make sex workers safe, why not help them get into adult industry jobs which they deem are “safer” than working in massage parlours, for example adult films or agency work or pro-domming? (I’m not saying those jobs are safer than parlours, I’m just saying the police could take the option of finding workers adult industry work which they think is more safe. This would still be state control of sex and it would still be stigmatising and patronising, but at least it’d have, like, a sort of veneer of concern that wasn’t entirely see-through. ).
If the sex workers choose to work independently, they’ll also arguably be less safe because brothel-keeping laws mean that it’s illegal for them to work with a friend for safety. However, in the massage parlours there would have been other workers present so it was more safe. Police Scotland are not making sex workers more safe. They are putting them in danger, or at best simply forcing them to change their workplace or work further from home.
The owners of the massage parlours and any non-sex-working staff such as receptionists, managers, bookkeepers, PR staff etc will also lose their business and their jobs. This is just contributing to unemployment. Does Police Scotland see these people (and sex workers) as collateral damage in their plan to police our sex lives and destroy our labour rights and freedom to sell and purchase services? Imagine the outrage if corner shops, newspapers or accountancy firms were suddenly shut down and people were losing their jobs and having their businesses – which they’ve built up over years- ruined. But, once again, it’s different for sex workers and anyone who happens to work in or own any adult industry business.
Though Rhoda Grant’s Bill has failed, Police Scotland are effectively continuing her work by implementing, if not the Swedish Model, then a non-legotimised, non-legally sanctioned Moralist Model of their own devising. Like the Swedish Model, it appears to be a partial criminalisation, but a criminalisation of sex workers themselves instead of criminalising the clients. No new laws have been passed to give Police Scotland these new powers. So what gives them the right to endanger innocent people, destroy businesses, ruin lives and disregard our freedom to purchase sex, seeing as Lothian and Borders Police did not feel the need to dominate citizens’ lives so brutally? There needs to be a clear law limiting the police’s power over our personal lives and freedoms, and to protect businesses. They’re not only putting sex workers in danger, they’re taking away all our rigts to sell and purchase sexual services and to start and run businesses. At least Rhoda Grant MSP followed the democratic procedure in trying to implement the Swedish model. But the police ignored any kind of democratic procedure or transparency; they didn’t involve the public in creating this new partial criminalisation model. I wonder what Rhoda Grant MSP would say to this new model – the model of non-legally sanctioned partial criminalisation.